ASTANA – A group of medical professionals and students from Germany, Austria, El Salvador, Estonia, India, Kenya, Nepal, the United States and Kazakhstan travelled here by bicycle from Semey.
The ride is a planned demonstration of peace organised by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and lasted from Aug. 10-24. Spanning 800 kilometres, the campaign was designed to promote the mission of IPPNW – a world free of atomic bombs and the threat of nuclear annihilation.
The end point of the tour was marked with a student congress organised by IPPNW students at the Palace of Independence. During the congress participants took part in plenaries dedicated to issues such as, “How we as youth change the game and the power of social media” and “Medical responsibility.” The student congress was organised on the eve of the 21st Congress of IPPNW that is being held in Astana from Aug. 27-29, for the first time on the territory of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.
IPPNW was founded in December 1980 by collaboration among American professor of cardiology at Harvard School of Public Health Bernard Lown, the director of the All-Union Cardiology Research Centre of the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) of the USSR Yevgeny Chazov and a fellow of the USSR AMS Leonid Ilyin. The organisation was awarded a UNESCO prize for its efforts in 1984 and the Nobel Peace Prize for services to public awareness and consciousness of humanity in favour of peace in 1985. In the mid-1980s, the number of members of IPPNW totalled about 145,000, and by the early 1990s, the movement had about 200,000 individuals from more than 60 countries.
The network connects doctors around the world through affiliations and activist links. One of the coordinators and organisers of the Kazakhstan bike tour, Michelle Jin from the United States, became a part the IPPNW movement in Iowa through the organisation Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). Jin is a Master of Public Health, focusing on maternal and child health at the University of Minnesota. She continues to work to promote the elimination of nuclear weapons through local and international events to raise community awareness and assumed the role of a leader at IPPNW by becoming national and regional student representative coordinator.
Gurley Kuusk, of Tallinn, Estonia, is an oncologist and was also one of the organisers of the bike tour. Gurley became acquainted with the activities of IPPNW in 2002 at the European Students’ Congress in Estonia and since then she has worked for the abolition of nuclear weapons by promoting the idea of a nuclear weapons free world. She organises student meetings, bicycle tours and street actions.
Another coordinator is Arashdeep Singh, from India, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from a medical university in India and is now a practicing doctor-intern in the department of pulmonology and respiratory diseases. The main areas of his professional activity are improving the quality of health services for the poor and vulnerable sections of society to improve their standard of living. He has been associated with IPPNW since 2008 and had various positions in the student organising committee.
Together with their peers from Kazakhstan and around the world, these enthusiastic promoters of peace seek to give hope that a nuclear weapons free world is possible.